The Equalizer 3 (2023) – Denzel Washington

In stark contrast to the first movie in the series, which set the mood beautifully from the outset with the help of expert sound effects, this movie if far too trigger happy on the sound effects at the beginning, to the point it’s just a lot of noise. But the noise effects mostly sort themselves out once the movie settles down beyond the opening scenes – although they do occasionally come back and make you think “what’s all this noise for?” since it’s twice the volume of the actors’ voices and a bit chaotic in places.

Equalizer 3 also has a bit more nastiness than those before it – more explicit blood & guys, and more nefarious methods of wounding – there’s multiple scenes guilty of this stuff even within the first 15 minutes – this stuff is better suited to a Horror Genre movie, it doesn’t belong in the movie of a smooth action hero. Whatever happened to the Denzel that apologised for having to kill someone even when they totally deserved it? This series has clearly gone down hill both morally and artistically. But most movie sequels are worse than those before them, and when you factor this in, it’s not a bad trilogy to enjoy. As with the previous movie, this one has a nice injection of extra creativity in the form of novel new plot features that make it a generally enjoyable experience for fans of the original. All three movies in the Equalizer saga exhibit a similar style of action albeit done to declining levels of quality, and have their own plot angles which makes them individually respectable for the most part.

An extra inconvenience with Equalizer 3 compared to those before it, is the amount of foreign language dialect – this movie is set in Italy and there’s a fair amount of Italian without built-in subtitles, and many subtitle systems fail to translate the Italian parts, but good subtitles can be found on some websites, and it’s mostly an English based movie still.

Denzel is also getting on a bit in this movie, which is 9 years on from the original. He was never particularly well built for an action hero role. His shape is average – a bit of a dad bod – and his posture is quite hunched and involuntarily bouncy like someone unathletic who can’t fight at all. This has been an issue in all three movies, but now he’s an older man too. Denzel is always a strong actor, and this role kind of suits his calm & calculative, serious demeanour, although it was a better fit in the original when everything worked better. But on the plus side, the debilitating injury in the plot of this movie suits his old age and hobbling way of walking in a way that we didn’t have in previous movies – it kind of clicks together in new ways now.

In-keeping with the trend set by the last two Equalizers, this one also has an overly drawn out action scene near the end followed by a positive short scene at the very end. And in-keeping with the trend of going down hill with each sequel, this one’s ending is even worse than the last one. A shame because it goes a long way towards ruining the overall quality of the movie, when the long ending is weaker than the standard set by the bulk of the movie.

The Equalizer 2 (2018) – Denzel Washington

Denzel in Equalizer 2

The new plot features in this sequel almost makes up for the lack of awe like we had in the first movie. It’s very similar in style & genre but the stage is already set so we get straight back into the story with The Equalizer 2. It’s a solid follow up movie but slightly inferior to the first in the series since there’s less of a big reveal factor here, and this one gets a bit more into gritty drama vibes, although the new interesting plot features almost make up for this. There’s also no antagonist or even any supporting actor this time round on the level of Marton Csokas from the previous movie, but Pedro Pascal does a fair job as Denzel’s shifty frenemy. Denzel himself is just a few years older here, and seems a bit more relaxed in the role now, which isn’t such a good or bad thing, it just blunts the edge a bit.

Perhaps the sound or lighting or camerawork is also responsible for less of a crisp vibe this time – maybe budget was a factor, although the budget was pretty much the same as last time – it was estimated between $55m to $73m last time and was around $62m this time round. Or maybe the crew were busy tripping on substances, since the catering staff for the next sequel (Equalizer 3) were busted in possession of cocaine just a few weeks after they started filming in Italy.

Like last time, the ending is overly drawn out – this time even worse so, which makes for a poor rewatching experience towards the back end of the movie. And there’s no cool scenes at the very end this time either – instead it practically turns into a messy soap opera drama.

Overall though, it’s still a decent sequel, especially in the first half of the movie. It’s well worth watching the whole trilogy sequentially – the third movie in the Equalizer series came out in 2023.

The Equalizer (2014) – Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington in The Equalizer (2014)
MARTIAL ARTS value ⭐⭐⭐⭐
ACTION value ⭐⭐⭐⭐
PLOT value ⭐⭐⭐
CAST value ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Continuing the vibe of The Book Of Eli (2010) where Denzel plays an expert assassin with a good heart, here we see him do much the same thing but with a more simple & standard plot.

The Equalizer (2014) masterfully sets the mood with the help of Hollywood’s best sound effects and camerawork, as well as actors in Denzel and his main adversary played by Marton Csokas – they both do an outstanding job to match the unseen crew.

Further supporting actors generally do a good job too, including Chloë Grace Moretz who plays the main victim Denzel’s character attempts to rescue; Melissa Leo who plays a politically connected senior member of the CIA (who Denzel’s character turns to for information on his adversary); David Harbour who plays a bent cop; and David Meunier who plays the local Russian mafia boss – these actors all do a pretty good job.

The action is mostly fluid and of a high standard although there are some slower drama scenes and there are some uncomfortable gritty patches. The ending is especially overly drawn out, from a frequent rewatcher’s perspective. This issue, combined with the simplistic plot, and the impression of great values being taught on the big screen when really we’re only seeing a watered down and twisted version of what they should be, mean The Equalizer is only half the masterpiece it could have been, from a smooth action hero movie junkie’s perspective. It really could have been as good as The Foreigner (starring Jackie Chan) or better, but it’s definitely not, due to these issues. Instead, I rank it on a par with The Transporter (starring Jason Statham), which has similar style, a similarly strong cast, a similar simplicity of concept, and is similarly let down by an over drawn out weak ending, although in The Equalizer’s case, the fairly dull long scene near the end is followed by a few strong short scenes at the very end, to lift the mood.

The Equalizer is quite a classic, and is one of Denzel’s best performances, so it’s good to see a couple of strong sequels were made, just like The Transporter had.

The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt

Over half a century after the original movies of the same name, this Magnificent Seven remake in 2016 stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt (who both perform outstandingly) among other strong supporting actors like Lee Byung-Hun (who also does an excellent job), Martin Sensmeier (who does pretty good), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo who does pretty good, Ethan Hawke (who does alright) and Vincent D’Onofrio (who also does alright) – together they make up The Magnificent Seven – a group of seven expert gunslingers (well, one throws knives & darts, and another shoots arrows) who agree to save a small western village from being occupied & slaughtered by a small army of wealthy mafia-type bandits with a financial interest in local mining operations.

Although there are two megastars supported by several other strong performances here, I would have liked to see much stronger characters in the opposition.

Martial arts wise, there’s a lot of gun slinging, not much fist fighting, but there’s some creative battlefield tactics at work, so it’s definitely got martial arts value.

Plot wise, it’s a pretty simple concept, and although the acting is great by Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, the action can get a bit slow or monotonous at times, with over drawn out shooting scenes, a bit of gritty drama and a bit too much horror genre creeping in with innocent people being slaughtered by a gatling gun while babies are crying etc. Some people might call it a masterpiece but it’s mixing up the genres too much for me, I’m here for the action heroes and on that basis I rate this movie just OK. You won’t get bored if you’ve not seen it before, but you won’t be in a hurry to rewatch it either.